Citizen Science

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Photo by Jim Chapman

Citizen Science

Discover, explore, learn, and give back to Montana's wild places

Want to learn more about the ecology of Montana’s wild public lands? We offer a variety of citizen science projects that will be just the ticket. We believe in citizen-powered fieldwork projects that inspire volunteers to learn about and protect our wild places. By volunteering for one of these projects, you will join a community of people assisting scientists and land stewards by collecting critical data and providing labor for conservation stewardship efforts.\

History of Citizen Science

Citizen science projects are a critical part of protecting our wildest landscapes. In 2015, MWA began leading groups of volunteers into diverse wild landscapes to identify and catalogue wilderness characteristics. A successful season of inventorying and data collection gave MWA the tools to lead discussions and influence proposals that will continue to guide the long-term management of these varied wildlands.

From 2014 through 2016, MWA volunteers were an integral part of our winter rare carnivore species tracking program. MWA partnered with Wild Things Unlimited and Winter Wildlands Alliance to study, track, and identify wolverines along the Continental Divide near Helena. More than 50 volunteers collected critical data that provided invaluable insight for local land managers and agencies like the U.S. Forest Service. Through the dedicated work of citizen scientists and trained project supervisors, MWA and our partners were able to successfully advocate for protecting the Continental Divide as a critical wildlife migration corridor, a decision that will be reflected in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest Plan.

Citizen science is dependent on volunteers, so please consider making an investment in our public lands by getting involved with our citizen science projects. Whether it’s pulling weeds, solitude monitoring, or monitoring Wilderness Study Areas with the Wilderness Institute, we’re excited to see you out in the field!

Our recent projects have included Porcupine Weed PullSage Creek Weed PullBurnt Timber Weed Pull, and a number of projects with the Wilderness Institute. We have also partnered with the Kootenai National Forest to monitor recreational use numbers and wilderness characteristics in the Cabinets. Volunteers recorded the number of people and groups they saw, wildlife encounters, campsite use, and other information. These reports were used to create important data for the Kootenai National Forest to monitor recreational use in the Wilderness. 

Upcoming Projects

We are partnering with the BLM Dillon Field Office to monitor wilderness character in Wilderness Study Areas. We are looking for volunteers who can commit to hiking at least one day this summer to explore these wild places and collect data, which will provide wilderness character information to the BLM and inform how it manages these areas. The BLM is hosting a training on Saturday, June 8th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Bear Trap Canyon to let you know what to look for while you're out, and how to record it.

Choose from four priority landscapes this summer: the Ruby Mountains WSA, Axolotl Lakes WSA, Bell and Limekiln Canyons WSA, and the Bear Trap Canyon Wilderness area. If you are interested, contact Spencer Bruce at If you can't make the training, but want to help, let us know!